Important Measures In Google Analytics Explained In This Quick Guide
Introduction to Google Analytics
You know that information is power - If you have the right information, you can make informed decisions that will help you to be successful. Because running a business is hard, it's important to have the data you need at your fingertips, and one of the best sources of that information is Google Analytics.
This tremendously powerful tool that can provide valuable insights into how people are discovering, visiting and using your website. However, the sheer quantity of information and reports available can seem overwhelming. This quick guide tells you about the key figures and how they can help you improve your business website.
What is Google Analytics?
It is a web-based tool that allows webmasters to track details of visitors to their site, where they came from, the pages they are looking at, their route through their site, engagement with their content and lots more. The data that webmasters can view is anonymised and does not share visitor's personal data.
Google Analytics is free and easy for webmasters to install on their websites.
How does it work?
How do I view each of these measures?
When you log into Google Analytics and have setup your profile, you'll see a list of reports on the left hand side. You just need to click on the relevant section to open it up and underneath you'll have access to all sorts of standard reports.
The best way to learn Analytics is to play around with it, it's a fantastically powerful, in-depth tool.
What are the main Google Analytics measures?
The important measures fall into the following main areas:
- Audience - How your visitors are using your site
- Traffic Sources - Where your visitors are coming from
- Content - What your visitors are looking at and how engaged they are
- Conversion - Whether your users are doing what you want them to
We'll explore the key measures in each of these areas below.
Audience - How Your Visitors are Using Your Site
The key measures for the 'Audience' section of Google Analytics are:
- Number of visits
- Average visit duration
- New and repeat visitors
- Bounce rate
- Visitor flow
Number of visits - This is how many people are visiting your site on a daily basis. You want this number to be increasing or at least maintaining itself at a steady level. If you are actively promoting, marketing or advertising your site, ideally you should see this number rise as a result.
You can increase the number of visits through several means: more promotion of your site, Search Engine Optimization, promoting on social media, advertising etc.
Pageviews - The number of pages on your site that have been viewed by all your visitors. This can tell you how engaging people are finding your content and the ease of navigation around your site. The more pageviews you have, the better as it means that your site is 'sticky' and that visitors hang around.
You can increase pageviews by improving navigation and accessibility, linking to other interesting pages and providing clear, easy to use, relevant and engaging content.
Average Visit Duration - How long people are spending on your site. This tells you how long people are reading your content for. Please note that if they navigate away from your site after only reading one page, this will be shown as a duration of 0.
You can improve average visit duration by providing more engaging and relevant website content for your visitors.
New and Repeat Visitors - How many people are coming to your site vs. visiting it for the first time. This provides a useful insight into the loyalty of your readers and how effective your methods of getting new readers are.
Bounce rate - This is the number of people who visit or read one page on your site and then immediately leave due to lack of engagement or interest. It is a key measure for understanding how good your site is at retaining interest and readers and you want it to be as low as possible.
You can reduce your bounce rate by providing compelling, good information and suggesting other pages on your site that a visitor might want to engage with.
Visitor Flow - Shows how people actually navigate your site from page to page. What is your most viewed content and how do people move between it? Are they taking the journey that you want them to? Visitor flow is represented graphically in Google Analytics and you can use it to drill down to the specific paths that visitors took through your site.
Google Analytics - Key Measures for Your Small Business
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Do you use Google Analytics on your site?
Traffic Sources - Where Your Visitors are Coming From
The key measures in the 'Traffic Sources' section of Google Analytics are:
- Sources - All Traffic
- Search - Organic
Sources - All Traffic - This is a critical measure and tells you how visitors are finding your site; this might be via:
- Referral - Visiting your website via a link from another website
- Direct - Coming to your website directly (e.g. by typing the address in) or from an unidentified location (e.g. by clicking a link in an email)
- Search - People searching for information and clicking through to your site via the Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
- Social - People discovering your content via social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc.)
- Other - There are various other ways people can discover your site as well (e.g. paid advertisements)
There are many ways to improve the 'sources' measure including good SEO, promotion on social media, building natural links and many more.
Search - Organic - This measure tells you the search terms that people are using to find and come to your site. Another very important measure that can tell you if you are appearing for the right keywords. It becomes even more powerful when combined with Google Webmaster Tools.
You can improve this through good SEO and relevant content, rich in the keywords that you want to show up for. Backlinking and building an online reputation are also an essential part of ranking well in search engine results.
Social - This metric tells you about the social sources that are driving traffic to your site and how people are engaging through their social networks including:
- Facebook - Likes and shares
- Google+ - Comments, shares and +1s
- Twitter - Tweets
- Other social networks (e.g. YouTube HubPages, Disqus etc.)
You can improve this through decent social media promotion and marketing.
Content - What Your Visitors are Looking at and How Engaged They Are
Site Content - All Pages - This metric tells you about the most popular pages and content on your site. Useful for seeing what content is being viewed the most.
Improve this through creating and promoting more relevant, engaging content, making it easy to find and encouraging people to read it.
Conversion - Whether Your Users are Doing What You Want Them To
Goals - To use conversion measuring, you'll need to setup goals in Google Analytics. A goal might be viewing a particular page (e.g. a 'Thank you' page), spending time on the site, signing up for a newsletter or something else. Setting up goals is outside the scope of this article, but they can be a powerful way to measure the effectiveness of your site. You can find out more about Google Analytics Goals here.
A summary of Google Analytics key measures
Number of visits, Page views, Average visit duration, New and repeat visits, Bounce rate, Visitor flow
Sources - All traffic, Search - Organic, Social
Site content - All pages
Goals (Whatever you deem those to be)
Video - Introduction to Google Analytics for your business
This article only scratches the surface of Google Analytics, but reviewing these key measures on a regular basis (I recommend weekly) and seeing how they trend over time can provide some really useful insight into how people use your site.
You can then make effective tweaks, test and track their effectiveness. There are also a number of experts out there that can provide advice and professional help in setting up and managing analytics and data mining it for the information you need.
This will all result in a better website, greater engagement from your users, clearer content and hopefully increased leads and sales.
Have any insights or information about how you've used Google Analytics effectively in your business? Let us know in the comments.
If you found this article useful, interesting or informative, please do check out my other guides for small business owners here.